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The Last Days of Dead Celebrities Hardcover – May 17, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; First Edition edition (May 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401351980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401351984
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite his book's coarse title, journalist Fink (Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11, 2001) treats his subjects with considerable grace in this intriguing collection accounting for a handful of celebrities' final days. Fink covers his subjects chronologically-beginning with the 1980 death of John Lennon-and occasionally references how the death of one personality affected another (as in the case of a mournful Yoko Ono). A veteran journalist for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, People magazine and the New York Daily News, Fink avoids the tabloid treatment and goes out of his way to attribute his quotes and gather background information from those who were there. The diversity of his choices gives weight to the book as well; larger-than-life personalities such as John Lennon and John Belushi commingle with football player Lyle Alzado, news correspondent David Bloom and musician Warren Zevon. Some, like legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg, had premonitions of their deaths, while others, like Belushi, were taken by surprise and all too soon. The result is a thoughtful and sobering account of how our culture views and treats celebrities, as well as a poignant look at some very public people's most private moments.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In detailing the activities of celebs at the end of life, Fink delivers somber cautionary tales replete with piquancy and perversity. To be sure, those are tabloid attributes, and Fink's style owes a bit to Kenneth (Hollywood Babylon) Anger, a bit to the supermarket tabs, and a bit to Joe Friday. That is, Fink's light enough to entertain, thorough enough to satisfy morbid curiosity. John Lennon, Orson Welles, and Lyle Alzado are among the subjects of 15- to 20-page chapters. Ted Williams, he of the court battles among his offspring and the cryogenically necessitated portmortem decapitation, makes for an especially savory essay, while the rather charming and inspirational fade-out practiced by Warren Zevon is another story. And when Fink quotes an expiring Lucille Ball remarking, "I'm so tired of myself" (to which veteran couch potatoes may breathe a silent "You and me both"), he imparts insight into what it must be like to end life with a celebrity-crazed public raptly watching. Truly the last word in celebrity biography. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Ilovebooks VINE VOICE on May 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was thisclose to buying this at the bookstore, but I am a cheapskate, so I didn't. But this is fantastic. Morbid, but fantastic. Yes, we've all heard most of these stories before, but there is something very unique in Fink's approach. He's not writing the gory details, but talking about how the deaths of these larger-than-life figures affected those who were closest to them, and how, so sadly, so many of these could have been prevented, such as Margeaux Hemingway's suicide, and John Ritter's heart problem. Just a fascinating account, that actually avoids much of the tabloidness that Hollywood Babylon waded in.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Howard L. Dixon on June 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mitchell Fink knows his subject very well. The nice thing about this book is you learn much more about the celebrities than just their final hours and how they passed. With the broad difference in the celebrities from Lucille Ball to Lyle Alzado the book builds upon what most readers already know about the subjects. Each coverage is sufficiently detailed to gain a good understanding but not so lengthy to become boring. You'll learn new and interesting facts about each and every one of the 15 celebrities.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By K. Corn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you fear this is going to be a morbid book, think again. The focus here isn't so much on how celebrities ranging from Arthur Ashe to John Lennon died but on how they LIVED their lives. Mitchell Fink seems to recognize that there is actually inspiration to be found and steers clear of a sleezy tell-all. He treats each celebrity with a modicum of respect, while also putting in the details that readers want to know.

There were many part of this book which I found moving, from John Ritter's attempts to comfort those around him by saying "I'll be fine" (or words to that effect) in the midst of agonizing physical pain to the courage Arthur Ashe diplayed even after a tactless reporter decided to reveal he had AIDS.

The author relies heaviy on actual quotes from people who knew the subjects of this book well and that adds special power and vividness to this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The exploitative-sounding title of this book is a bit deceptive since author Mitchell Fink, the New York Daily News' former gossip columnist, actually delves thoughtfully if almost too painstakingly into what led to the demises of fifteen celebrities, an eclectic list for sure - true legends like John Lennon, Lee Strasberg, Orson Welles, Lucille Ball and Milton Berle; more controversial figures such as Tupac Shakur and John Belushi; and comparatively lesser lights. It's an intriguing cross-section of which Fink's major requirement is minimizing any apocryphal information that may have fed into the legacies of these figures. To accomplish this, he interviewed family members, friends and lovers, business associates, and others who could in aggregate chronicle the minutiae of what happened in the last days and hours.

What comes across is sometimes trivial, almost bordering on inane (like Ball's penchant for eating franks and beans), but at other times, there are truly unique moments unearthed. The image of Welles lying prone with his typewriter on his bulbous belly is one that I am unlikely forget. More often though, the author adds poignant dimensions that would otherwise been lost, such as Dan Ackroyd's gnawing guilt over his inability to stop best friend Belushi's ongoing addiction to cocaine. Another sad recollection is how Yoko Ono regularly bought chocolate for Lennon, and how after his murder, she ate the last pieces even though she hated chocolate. Despite her family's long history of mental illness, former model Margaux Hemingway, probably the most obscure of the celebrities profiled, is captured in all her desperate loneliness before her suicide, as she unsuccessfully asked five men to marry her.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Real Estate Agent on November 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was away for a convention for four days and this book consumed all my airplane time to and from the destination city. I finished it and gave it to my mother when I got home, and now she can't put it down. What surprised me were the sensitive, first hand accounts of these celebrities from people who were with them in their final days or knew them. But mostly those who were there. It was very first person as a read, as opposed to third person, from the outside of their world looking in.

And it reminded me how real these celebrities are. They do dumb things, or great things, but have normal moments or occasional hissy fits and then die. I know the topic is rather grim and someone voyeuristic, but I highly recommend this book.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Danny Matthews on July 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is about the last days of:

1-John Lennon

2-Lee Strusberg

3-John Belushi

4-Orson Welles

5-Lucille Ball

6-Lyle Alzado

7-Arthur Ashe

8-Margaux hemingway

9-Tupac Shakur

10-John Denver

11-Milton Berle

12-Ted Williams

13-David Bloom

14-Warren Zevon

15-John Ritter

This book was an ok read.

I think the book could of been a lot better if it had more Celebrities in it. I would have liked to read about Elvis-Robert Reed-Michael Landon-Tammy Wynette- Johnny Carson and even more.

maybe John will write a part two and add these great Celebrities.
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